A PROUD descendant of the Windrush generation has shared his story on the 75th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of HMS Empire Windrush (June 22) to celebrate the legacy of his ancestors in the UK.
Kevin McKenzie, an area manager at Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Rugby, shared his belief that ‘anything is possible’ as he celebrated the progress made in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the UK over the past seven decades.
Windrush Day is an annual celebration that commemorates the arrival of the HMS Empire Windrush in 1948, marking the beginning of post-war immigration from the Caribbean. The day has cultural significance as it honours the contributions and sacrifices made by the Windrush generation, who helped to rebuild and shape modern-day Britain.
It is a celebration very close to Kevin’s heart, with both of his parents originating from British Guiana. Kevin’s maternal grandparents came to the UK in 1954 on the SS Columbie, and his paternal grandparents arrived in the 1960s. Many years later, Kevin’s parents met at a bus stop where they bonded over their Guianese experiences and journey to the UK.
He said: “The journey my parents and grandparents went on has always intrigued me, and the experience of moving somewhere for opportunities fascinates me.
“The bravery of the Windrush generation has given me confidence for my own journey – I’m not afraid to take risks and move somewhere new, and I wouldn’t be like this if it wasn’t for my family and their experiences.”
Kevin joined Amazon in 2014 and has continued to rise ever since. As the Rugby fulfilment centre’s point of contact for the company’s Black Employee Network (BEN), he supports black colleagues across the Amazon network, encouraging them to share experiences and help each other.
He said: “I’m proud to be a member of BEN as it’s important for employees to be represented in their workplace and open up discussions about inclusion. Within BEN, we can celebrate occasions that tend to be forgotten and provide education and information on the black experience and history.
“I was pleased to take part in a mentoring programme with a senior leader recently through BEN to teach her about life as a black employee – I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without BEN.”
Kevin says he has high hopes for future descendants of the Windrush generation.
“The experiences my family had with Windrush have made me realise that anything is possible for my own children,” he said. “My grandparents had nothing and built themselves a life in the UK, overcoming hard times and succeeding; this attitude is something I instil in my children too.”